Oct 29, 2012

Integrating Differentiated Instruction + Understanding by Design

This is a great book. Carol Ann Tomlinson has such a handle on differentiated instruction--it's a wonder why her books aren't the focus of our staff development sessions throughout the year.
"[F]ar more students would be successful in school if we understood it to be our jobs to craft circumstances that lead to success rather than letting circumstance take its course" (18).
 "Differentiation does not advocate 'individualization' (19).
That's what is feels like, though. I have to retrain my mind to think about variety rather than individualization.
"[T]he vast majority of students would benefit from tasks designed to foster complex and creative thinking, support for increased independence, self-assessment, metacognition, flexible pacing, and so on. The best differentiation inevitably begins with what we might assume are 'too high expectations' for many students and continues with building supports to enable more and more of those students to succeed at very high levels" (20).
Successful schools understand this. Crap schools have no idea what this means. They set the bar low--just trying to make it to the bell. Lazy. Pitiful. Unforgivable.
"In an effectively differentiated classroom, a teacher adheres to a philosophy that each learner is sent to school by someone who has to trust that the teacher will realize the worth of the child and be guided by a sense of stewardship of potential each time the child enters the classroom door" (44).
It irritates me to no end that some students come to school, sit in my class, ignore my lessons, put forth no effort, settle on failure, and never change. A week or two ago, I was already to give up on a few students in my class. I was tired of the struggle. Then, in a moment of clarity, I remembered that they are my students. If I give up, it's over. They are children, reacting to a variety of factors. I'm the adult--it's up to me to cut through the crap and find a way. My job isn't to teach curriculum--it's to teach children. Time to suck it up and work.